Saturday, December 8, 2012

An Excellent Choice of Books from Ft. Mandan

In the last few years I've become aware of a part of the country that many have not heard much from... The Dakotas. The Dakota Institute Press of the Lewis & Clark Fort Mandan Foundation in North Dakota now has eight books in print, which can also be found in your local store. And on the Ft. Mandan website, click SHOP to peruse their wonderful selection of books on Lewis and Clark, Native American Indians, the fur trade, the natural world, stuff for kids, even music and videos. 

As a short cut, here's my top recommendations:

For the Love of North Dakota and Other Essays, by Clay S. Jenkinson. I highly recommend this, if you are a lover of Lake Woebegone but have a more wry sense of humor and a taste for the facts. A collection of Clay's weekly columns from the Bismark Tribune that cover a truly wide breadth of topics, from how the landscape and population of the precious, historic badlands are being rapidly changed by oil fracking to gardening and sunsets on the plains, to coffee shop culture, to important political issues to raising a beloved only daughter (so beautiful they'll make you weep). Like great letters from a friend who is brilliant, deep, funny and a romantic, who lives in a most interesting place. $29.95

A Free and Hardy Life: Theodore Roosevelt's Sojourn in the American West, by Clay S. Jenkinson. A handsome coffee table book for any history buff, lover of the wild west, or politico. Here's 70 stories about Roosevelt's life as an adventurer, politician, and man of letters, lavishly illustrated with more than 100 photographs, some never previously published. Roosevelt was a New York aristocrat who ventured into the American West to seek authentic frontier experience and the strenuous life. He traveled to the Dakota Territory in 1883 to kill his first buffalo where he fell in love with the badlands of what is now North Dakota. $45.00

For the hunter on your list, who could appreciate this, I recommend Hunters Log, by Timothy Murphy.  Murphy sees hunting as a spiritual activity, and this is his long-awaited book of hunting poetry. With his faithful Labrador, Feeney, Murphy wanders in deep snow along the windbreaks of the Sheyenne and Red River valleys, reciting poetry and firing at the pheasants Feeney flushes.  $19.95  

The Psalms of King David, $24.95 - A fresh translation of seventy-three Psalms of David translated with deep emotion. These lyrical, metrical, and beautiful poems will come alive for some for the first time. Unless you read Hebrew, there can be no better authentic translation of these Psalms. by Allan 
Sullivan and Seree Cohen Zohar

Buffalo Bird Woman's Garden by Gilbert L. Wilson
Fascinating! She was a Hidatsa Indian, born about 1839, who became an expert gardner. Today's gardeners can still follow her advice in the book where she describes a year of activities, from preparing and planting the fields through cultivating, harvesting, and storing foods. Following centuries-old methods, she and the women of her family raised huge crops of corn, squash, beans, and sunflowers on the rich bottomlands of the Missouri River in what is now North Dakota.  She gives recipes for cooking typical Hidatsa dishes, and tells of the stories, songs, and ceremonies that were essential to a bountiful harvest. $11.95

For just $20 you can get this great graphic novel telling the story of Sacagawea, the teenage Shoshone mother who traveled with the Lewis and Clark expedition as an interpreter. Sacagawea Journey into the West by Jessica Gunderson, Illustrated by Cynthia Martin and Barbara Schulz

Animal Habitats by Judy Press introduces young learners to North American plants, animals, and a variety of other creatures. Children will learn that habitat is another word for home and why living things appear in some regions, but not others. $12.95

Becoming Jefferson's People by Clay Jenkinson
I have this book, and the good news is, I live pretty much by it's suggestions already. A great inspiration of how to live now, by the best of Thomas Jefferson's principles, of at a time when we probably need it most as a collective people. We need the Sage of Monticello's vision as we begin what is going to be one of the most difficult periods of American History," said Jenkinson, a Humanities scholar.  Part manifesto, part call for a new political persuasion in the United States, part self-help book and part critique of the consumerist world empire that the United States has become at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Just $17.95, and one that will be read again and again (well-worn and dog eared) for decades.

TIP: Clay Jenkinson portrays Thomas Jefferson himself on the always fascinating weekly radio show and podcast called The Thomas Jefferson Hour. Hosted by the fabulous David Swenson, who partners with Jenkinson beautifully, If you haven't heard it, CLICK HERE to learn more, or search for it in podcast form on iTunes.

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